Unwalkable urbanism

Drive-To Urbanism

Those who place a high priority on preserving existing neighborhoods sometimes ask why we aren't focusing on building walkable neighborhoods on vacant land.  With much of the vacant land in Eugene at the edges of town, separated from downtown and the city center by distance and suburban style developments, these kinds of developments face many challenges.  

An example is Crescent Village-- while the townhouses, rowhouses, and mixed-used apartments with shops below are lovely, it faces several challenges.  Unless the resident is fortunate enough to work at one of the handful of offices included in the development, they are most likely going to have to drive to work in another part of Eugene (at least until high-frequency bus service serves the community.)  Because all of the homes were built in the past 10 years or so, they are at the higher end of the Eugene market, and it is unlikely that the waiters at the restaurants will be able to afford to live there-- and again, newer construction commands higher rents, meaning that necessary businesses with lower profit margins are less likely to be able to afford the rents.  Finally, attempting to patronize any place that isn't located in the development would require either driving or walking across sizeable, pedestrian unfriendly parking lots.  Crescent Village is a beautiful example of a mixed use development, that shows many of the flaws of Drive-to Urbanism that is described in this Strong Towns article.

These projects, while apparently inspired by New Urbanism, do not conform to this important CNU canon: β€œThe physical organization of the region shall promote transit, pedestrian and bicycle systems to maximize access and mobility while reducing dependence on automobiles and trucks.” True, residents will likely walk to shops and restaurants once they get home in the evening, but before that, they will be part of the hordes of single-occupant car commuters jamming the highways and polluting the air.
— Kevin Posey, Strong Towns